Cannabidiol: from an inactive cannabinoid to a drug with wide spectrum of action

After the elucidation of the chemical structure of cannabidiol in 1963, the initial studies showed that cannabidiol was unable to mimic the effects of Cannabis. In the 1970’s the number of publications on cannabidiol reached a first peak, having the research focused mainly on the interaction with delta9-THC and its antiepileptic and sedative effects. In the last 45 years it has been possible to demonstrate that CBD has a wide range of pharmacological effects, many of which being of great therapeutic interest, but still waiting to be confirmed by clinical trials.

The Antitumor Activity of Plant-Derived Non-Psychoactive Cannabinoids

As a therapeutic agent, most people are familiar with the palliative effects of the primary psychoactive constituent of Cannabis sativa (CS), Δ(9)-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), a molecule active at both the cannabinoid 1 (CB1) and cannabinoid 2 (CB2) receptor subtypes. Through the activation primarily of CB1 receptors in the central nervous system, THC can reduce nausea, emesis and pain in cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy. During the last decade, however, several studies have now shown that CB1 and CB2 receptor agonists can act as direct antitumor agents in a variety of aggressive cancers.

The Anti-Inflammatory Properties of Terpenoids from Cannabis

The marijuana plant cannabis is known to have therapeutic effects, including improvement of inflammatory processes. However, no report of patients using cannabis for Crohn’s disease (CD) was ever published.
This is the first report of cannabis use in Crohn’s disease in humans. The results indicate that cannabis may have a positive effect on disease activity, as reflected by reduction in disease activity index and in the need for other drugs and surgery.

Medical Cannabis for Neuropathic Pain

Many cultures throughout history have used cannabis to treat a variety of painful ailments. Neuropathic pain is a complicated condition that is challenging to treat with our current medications. Recent scientific discovery has elucidated the intricate role of the endocannabinoid system in the pathophysiology of neuropathic pain. As societal perceptions change, and legislation on medical cannabis relaxes, there is growing interest in the use of medical cannabis for neuropathic pain.

Future Aspects for Cannabinoids in Breast Cancer Therapy

Cannabinoids (CBs) from Cannabis sativa provide relief for tumor-associated symptoms (including nausea, anorexia, and neuropathic pain) in the palliative treatment of cancer patients. Additionally, they may decelerate tumor progression in breast cancer patients. In summary, CBs are already administered to breast cancer patients at advanced stages of the disease, but they might also be effective at earlier stages to decelerate tumor progression.